Red Bull and AlphaTauri to run special Honda tribute liveries at Turkish Grand Prix
Red Bull and AlphaTauri’s cars will race with special liveries at this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix, on what was originally slated to be power unit supplier Honda’s final home race at Suzuka.
The Red Bull RB16Bs of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will run in a predominantly white livery, inspired by the paint scheme of the Honda RA272 that Richie Ginther raced to victory at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix.
Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauris, meanwhile, will feature the word arigato – the Japanese word for thank you – on the rear wings of their AT02s.
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The Japanese Grand Prix had been set to run this weekend on the original 2021 calendar, before the event was cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. And with Honda set to leave Formula 1 at the end of the year, Koji Watanabe, Chief Officer for Brand and Communication Operations at Honda, confirmed that the marque had wanted to pay tribute to Honda’s Japanese fans in the absence of a home race.
“Everyone at Honda is extremely disappointed that the Japanese Grand Prix has had to be cancelled,” said Watanabe. “We were especially keen to race at Suzuka Circuit, as it is our last year in the sport, at a time when both our teams are performing very well.
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“We also appreciate that the Japanese fans were particularly looking forward to seeing Honda’s last appearance here and Yuki Tsunoda driving in his home race. We know that a special livery cannot replace what would have been a very exciting weekend, but we hope that Honda fans around the world, especially those in Japan, will accept this special livery as a small token of our appreciation of their continued support over so many years.”
AlphaTauri driver Tsunoda would have become the first Japanese driver to compete in a home race since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014, with his Team Principal Franz Tost saying: “It’s a big disappointment not being able to race at Suzuka, especially this year, which was supposed to be Honda’s last home GP.
“From our side, we were really looking forward to our Japanese trip even more than usual because it would have been great to see Yuki Tsunoda driving in front of his own crowd. It’s also a shame because Suzuka is one of the best racetracks in the world and always provides plenty of excitement and the fans really understand the sport, showing their appreciation in typical Japanese style.
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“That will have to wait until next year, but in the meantime the simple 'arigato' message on the rear wing of our two cars is just a small gesture to say THANK YOU to all our Japanese fans, while racing in Istanbul.”
Red Bull and AlphaTauri are set to reveal their full liveries in due course.